Finally! You’ve found a great home-mate and house where you’re able to create your own space, but do you really have that flexibility? The ability to make a house feel like your own is important to a lot of people, make sure to get to know your needs. Ask yourself if this is important to you.
Back in my San Francisco days when I shared my apartment with my partner, we discussed what sort of decor we both liked. When he moved out, he took the majority of the good furnishings and left me with the dregs (payback for having to leave a fabulous apartment). In any case, with what little I had and what little I could afford to replace, I made it into a lovely space that showed my sense of aesthetics–chic minimalist.
When I found my first housemate, I didn’t consider he would bring much with him because he was relocating from Southern California to a new job in San Francisco. When he told me he had dishes and flatware, some pots and pans, I made space for them in the kitchen. I figured most of the furniture he would buy in San Francisco to furnish the bedroom and that would be that.
He had enough furniture to fill a tiny studio apartment, which included a futon couch, coffee table, lamps, and his bed, dresser, and night table. I had no issue of how he decorated his bedroom or the mismatched china and flatware, but I wasn’t happy with the added furnishings to the living room, which clashed with my style. I didn’t say anything, but I felt my space had been invaded by someone who didn’t share my sense of style. Yet, my housemate was an extraordinary find and I got over it within a few days.
When you decide to embark in either sharing your home or finding a new home with a home-mate, remember that you both come with baggage. By that I mean the aesthetic kind. One person might adore plush and chintz while the other likes stainless steel and glass.
But there are other issues as well. For example, what if your new home-mate charges into the kitchen and decides to reorganize where you keep your spices (hint: don’t keep them in a cabinet over the stove–it dries them out) or the pantry. Don’t stew about it, but ask them the rationale behind the reorganization. You might be surprised that it actually makes sense (that’s how I learned about the spices). As for furniture be flexible. Don’t be like Dr. Fraser Crane who pitched a fit when his father moved in with his ugly La-Z-Boy.
The point I’m trying to make is that you want to make your home-mate feel comfortable and safe. This new space is also her home. Remember, she is not a guest in a hotel or at an AirBnB. If she wants to paint her bedroom, let her. She has the right to decorate it any way she pleases.
Be Up Front
We keep repeating this over and over, if you have any concerns be up front from the very beginning and be clear about space and what she can alter to suit her personal style i.e., painting a bedroom, hanging art work, putting down rugs.
We recommend a coffee date with your potential home-mate and discuss what works and what doesn’t. Talk and learn from each other. The best part is that you might be pleasantly surprised to find someone who is a whiz at organizing the kitchen and enjoys doing it or likes plants and has great ideas of redoing the garden. Be open to new ideas and welcome them. You might find you like them even more!
Learn more about how to live in shared housing: Sharing Housing with Pets , Owning Together is a Win-Win!
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